THE 5 FREEDOMS OF ANIMAL WELFARE
1. Freedom From Hunger and Thirst by ready access to fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigor.
2. Freedom From discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
3. Freedom From Pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
4. Freedom to express Normal Behavior by providing sufficient space, facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
5. Freedom From Fear and Distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
Cat Beach Sanctuary aims to reach international standards for cat care. At the same time, the sanctuary accepts and works under the conditions found in a traditional fishing village with many cats being cared for by local people who do not have access to, knowledge of or the ability to give cats vaccinations, sterilizations and other important care such as parasite treatments. Cat Beach also contends with ongoing issues with weather, tide action, tropical humidity and heat. The aim is to find the resources to provide the rescued cats with the best care possible. Cat Beach is a sanctuary and not a shelter as such — it is literally the last resort for cats that have nowhere else to go. Most are rescued from true life-or-death situations. Cat Beach gives them a second chance at life.
The protocols we share here have been developed based on research and guidance from a number of veterinarians over the past 5 years. These can always be improved on and continuous improvement is always the goal.
Veterinary Health Checks
NUTRITION The top priority is to provide good nutritious food to the cats as with strengthened immune systems they can throw off the Big 4 of Cat Illnesses – viruses, bacterial infections, parasites, and fungal infections.
Both caged and free-roaming cats are offered a minimum of 3 meals a day – between 8 and 9 am, between 4 and 5 pm, and again between 9 and 10 pm. In addition, feeding stations are located throughout where the cats have access to fresh water and dry kibble 24/7. All dishes are washed in antibacterial soap and dried before use. All feeding stations are completely cleaned and refilled a minimum of once a day and normally at least twice a day.
FOOD for the cats is based on commercial canned food to which cat vitamins and other immune support supplements like L-Lysine are added. Fresh or frozen chicken or fish are boiled and added. Rice, pumpkin, boiled or scrambled eggs add extra nutrition and increase the size of the quantities prepared.
SHELTER is provided inside an old 2-story wooden bungalow and 2 cement outbuildings, as well as in outdoor roofed cages. The cats have many places to hide, climb, sleep, and just hang out by themselves or in the company of other cats or humans. The cats are free to choose to stay indoors or go outside at will. At present, there is insufficient fencing to confine them to the property so they may wander away. However, the majority stay nearby, knowing that they have 24 hour access to food.
CAGING To give the Cat Beach Cats the most “normal” life possible, cats are caged only for good reasons which follow: sick, injured, in heat or aggressive, or new. Late pregnancy or birthing or nursing queens and their kittens are isolated in an airconditioned upstairs Nursery that is carefully cleaned at least 2 times per day.
— NEW CATS New cats are always caged to allow them to settle in and get used to the smells, sounds, other cats and human activities. The standard is that all new cats stay for 2 weeks inside a cage. During that time, they are observed for any symptoms of health conditions – wounds, earmites, eye infections, and sneezing from flu virus are commonly seen in the cats rescued from terrible conditions. These receive basic care and if serious illness or injury is found, they are transported to a veterinarian for diagnosis and medications. All new cats receive dewormer and deflea treatments. This stay also allows for photos to be taken of the cat, give it a name, and create an intake record including the veterinarian’s information.
While sometimes it is impossible to have a vet see cats before they come to Cat Beach — cats are “dumped” or brought in by very poor families or children from the neighborhood — the Cat Beach policy is to insist that all rescuers must take a new cat needing sanctuary to a veterinarian first for health check and vaccination (if age and health appropriate) before bringing it out to the Sanctuary. Most rescuers kindly abide by this, therefore most if not all cats under Cat Beach care have been evaluated by a veterinarian and instructions received — especially important in the case of special needs, injured or sick cats.
SICK OR INJURED CATS that are found free-roaming (they may wander in or are found in the neighborhood) are caged and evaluated as to whether their condition requires a vet visit. Protocols have been established and verified through both consultation with a number of vets and from extensive research and experience. In the cases of minor illness or injury such as scratches from itching, flea infestations, eye infections, ear mites, or mild flu symptoms, these cats are separated from the population in cages and given additional basic care such as baths.
VETERINARY & NURSING CARE For any cat found with symptoms that seem serious, the cat will be taken to a professional veterinary clinic (5 different ones depending on their hours and facilities available) and given diagnosis and a treatment plan. If the vet says we can “bring the cat home” to Cat Beach, then it is placed in a cage and the full course of medications are given following the vet’s instructions.
This level of nursing care is exactly that of any pet owner; however, the Cat Beach Team now has years of experience and equipment like cages, hot water bottles and heating pads, syringes, understanding of medications, etc. to give a better quality of nursing care than most pet owners can give.
THE DAILY TASKS OF CAT CARE Because the beach, old wooden house and cement buildings will never be fully sterile, the daily tasks aim to make it as clean as possible. The daily tasks include:
Cleaning & Refilling Free-Feeding Stations (water, kibble)
Cleaning & sterilizing “Poop Trays”
Dishes, dishes, dishes…
Floors – sweep, mop, hose, steam clean, power wash
Surfaces – wipe down with bleach
Supplies Inventory & Purchasing
Cat Grooming & Nursing Care
CAGE CLEANING Water / Food / Poop Trays / Bedding – All cages are given full changes at least 2 times a day. Each cage is furnished with a water bowl, fresh water, a food bowl filled with dry kibble (except special cases where vet prescribes no kibble), a toileting tray lined with newspaper, and newspaper lining the bottom of the cage as well as the undertray. Name tags with instructions are attached to the cages. If diarrhea is seen, then a red plastic tag is attached to indicate it should be fed only chicken until the diarrhea clears.
Twice daily, water and food bowls are cleaned, fresh water and fresh kibble or appropriate food provided. Both dishes and”Poop Trays” are cleaned and sterilized with bleach. All cages and poop trays are lined with newspaper so that no cats stay on wire floors; these are covered with newspaper and additional “pee pads” and cloth bedding may be added. In addition, cats are usually given hiding boxes – plastic or cardboard, and cardboard scratch pads. Toys are added for stimulation, especially for sick or injured kittens.
Bleach is used as the standard for all cleaning and is the only cleaning fluid that is known to eliminate all cat viruses. However, bleach is inactivated by organic matter and by detergents. Cat Beach uses Clorox Cleanup or Clorox Total with Bleach for cleaning everything, using it in spray bottles to wipe surfaces and in buckets to mop floors. In addition, after scrubbing, poop trays are soaked in 1 part bleach to 32 parts water for 20 minutes to eliminate germs. Then rinsed off completely before use. Dishes are also submerged in bleach water, then rinsed and dried.
This is followed by hosing down or mopping with clean water or allowing to air dry (bleach will dissipate within a few hours). Care is taken to cover buckets and keep the cats from coming into contact with any chemicals. Cat Beach does not use Dettol or other cleaning fluids known to be toxic to cats.
Other cleaning regimens include sweeping and mopping all floors and walkways at least 2 to 3 times per day. Power washing is done every few days. Weekly, salt or diatomaceous earth powder is sprinkled around the edges of rooms, on the sand, around plants, and wherever insects have been seen. Serai wangi lemongrass spray is also sprayed wherever flies or other pests are seen or smells detected.
SAND CARE The cats use the sandy areas as a toilet. Being located on a beach has great advantages for the cats – the competition for toileting in multi-cat indoor households and shelters is one of the greatest causes of stress and illness for cats.
Cat Beach has a strict policy of never emptying poop trays from caged cats outdoors — they are rinsed into a toilet to go into the septic system, the same as human waste. Outdoors, maintenance of the sand is a daily and ongoing task. It is ‘pooper scooped’ at least 2 times a day with faeces placed into plastic trash bags and taken off property to a trash bin that is collected at least once a day by a commercial company that incinerates trash.
About once a week, salt and/or diatomaceous earth is distributed on the sand to keep down parasite growth. Periodically, high tides will rise to the beach level and rinse the sand. Heavy rains also help to clear the beach and open air spaces of the property.
CAT CLEANING To give so many cats the care they need, volunteers are invited to help groom cats. Non-allergenic baby wipes, facial cottons, and tissues dipped in saline solution for faces or a mild mix of apple cider vinegar and water for bodies. Volunteers are shown how to clean brushes, combs, nail clippers, etc. and are changed between cats’ care.
For fleas and other parasites, ACV makes fleas lose their grip on skin and come to the surface where they are easier to comb out. Dishes of soapy water are prepared to clean fleas off the combs; dishes and combs are washed between cleaning multiple cats. In cases where earmites are evident or alopecia hair loss, coconut oil is applied to soothe and help clean. Diatomaceous earth powder, food grade only, also can help reduce pests. If many fleas are found, then either Frontline or other flea spray or spoton may be applied with a supervisor’s permission. Deflea baths may also be given if appropriate, with volunteers assisting supervisors to ensure cats are dried thoroughly.
Volunteers are also equipped with gloves and hand sanitizer to use when cleaning cats, as well as masks and aprons or towels to cover clothing if they would like or need to use them. It is explained that there is a strict policy that volunteers may clean, groom, and but never to give medications without instruction from a supervisor who is designated and trained to carry out veterinarians’ instructions.
Volunteers can also be trained quickly to clean faces, ears, and eyes and to put on creams and ointments with supervision.
Our aim is to constantly seek out and provide volunteers and pet owners with simple inexpensive materials and methods to give cats care. Where apple cider vinegar costs just pennies, Frontline flea spray can cost as much as RM80 per bottle.
Cat Beach “makes do” in many ways — turning an old wooden bungalow into a multi-cat home, finding multiple uses for items like plastic bottles for hot water bottles for sick cats, reusing cat food bags and containers as cage covers and liners and cat houses. Reuse, recycle, reimagine has become a motto.
After almost 5 years of research and experience, these and other protocols are mostly solid and practiced daily. In future, we would like to have a regular veterinarian come onsite, veterinary techs or nurses, and a larger staff to do the daily care — and of course, a bigger administrative team and board to do the fundraising that is so necessary to sustain the sanctuary. In the meantime, we deeply appreciate the very hard work of both our regular and occasional volunteers from 8 am to 10 pm — and often all night — which makes possible a life that is better in many ways for the cats than the situations from which they were rescued.